Standmount speakers for people who dislike any brightness?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by back2vinyl, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident

    I guest I suggested based on personal experience and suggested only what works best for me. I would have suggested speakers placement and room treatment if those helped as much as finding a matching amp. At least in my case I have tried multiple positions, multiple rooms, wall treatments and amps. In my case, none worked as well as finding a matching amp.
    Erik Tracy likes this.
  2. Ron Scubadiver

    Ron Scubadiver Forum Resident

    Houston TX
    My LS50's don't sound bright to me.
  3. back2vinyl

    back2vinyl Forum Resident Thread Starter

    London, UK
    A lot of speakers have been mentioned here and I'll look into them all but I was especially interested by timind's mention of the Revel M106. I'd never even heard of Revel before but on Googling them I've found that this is a Harman product and has come out of the pioneering research done by the likes of Floyd Toole and Sean Olive, for whom I have very great respect - I've even got that Floyd Toole book on speaker and room acoustics

    Floyd E. Toole book

    and it was that book that persuaded me to switch from stereo to multichannel. It's also interesting to me that the designer of the ARC room correction technology built into my Anthem MRX-520 A/V receiver was also a member of this same research team so there's a kind of synergy there. I would be very interested to hear these Revel M106 speakers but it could prove difficult here in London - I've sent an email to the distributor and haven't had an answer yet but the only UK dealer I can see online is in Edinburgh.

    My plan is to put together a portfolio of torture tracks like the couple of samples I've posted here and then do the rounds of the dealers, auditioning a selection of the speakers mentioned here. In the meantime I'll experiment more with room placement and the ARC room correction software (I should have said that the sample of sound output I posted here was without any room correction) and think about the other suggestions made here. Who knows, I may end up sticking with these speakers - well recorded music sounds superb on them and maybe I just have to give up listening to badly recorded music - or only listen to it on Audeze LCD-4 headphones.
  4. basie-fan

    basie-fan Forum Resident

    Great speakers but I recall they have a little "extra" right in the upper-mid low-treble region that would most bother the OP.
  5. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Buffalo, NY
    You might look at NSMT. My sense is the designer likes a relaxed sound.
  6. Mike-48

    Mike-48 Forum Resident

    Portland, Oregon
    That's a great idea. Don't forget to bring some favorite but non-torture tracks with you, too -- you'll want to hear how those sound!
  7. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident

    I just looked at the specs of your AVR. 1% thd at 100 watts, 8 ohm, 2 channels driven.
    For comparison,
    My Onkyo tx-nr 808 is 0.08% at 130 Watts at 8 ohm.
    My Pioneer SC 95 is 0.08% at 135 Watts, but only shown for 1 kHz
    My Parasound is 0.06% at 125 Watts, 8 ohm.

    If I understand thd calculation correctly, your amp is at least 20 dB noisier than all my amps at 100 watt level at 8 ohm. I would say it is pretty significant if you like to listen to music loud.
  8. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Played this clip through my near field monitors, it does sound bright indeed, but more specifically as you mentioned "nasal" with a pronounced presence. The presence in this recording is centered at about 2 kHz. This is an interesting frequency as it can help liven up vocals, brings them up front.... but also too much of it causes listening fatigue, and doesn't take much. The onset of fatigue and annoyance occurs after several minutes in my experience.

    The "nasal" character in the vocal can be caused by phase problems that eq does not resolve, -or- too strong in the 500 Hz - 800 Hz area. (this would not be a brightness problem) Perhaps it's not the "brightness" that's annoying, but maybe the harsh quality of the brightness? I reduced the treble to "warm it up".. this did not get rid of the nasality.
  9. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Wow! very nice job recording your speakers!
    What I hear through near fields.. not bad!
    I do hear coloration in the midrange, however some of this my be occurring through the mic, as it is almost impossible to accurately re-create the live experience of listening to a speaker. Good headphones may be the best option as the original room interactions are heard. Coloration most commonly occurs at the crossover points and beyond them. In terms of frequency response, I am hearing emphasis at about 800 Hz, then again at 400 hz... curious if eq'ing that out would confirm this. I do not suggest eq as a permanent solution.

    I tried warming it up by "downtilt", bass up a little, treble down.. the coloration remains.
    The Spendors appear to be a nice two way stand speaker, but have not heard them.
  10. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Yes! The placement to ear level is critical with just about any speaker. Many two way speakers tend to focus better as the ear lines up with the low frequency driver vs the tweeter. For instance if a two way is below ear level, experiment by flipping it upside down, and angle the speaker up.
  11. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Kudos to Anthem for being honest!
  12. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident

    Haha, I agree. Of the three amps I quoted, I only believe Parasound.
  13. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    since no reply about how many hours on the '11s, we'll assume you have not yet broken them in sufficiently to round off the high end and extend the bass. in which case they could start sounding better after they reach 200 to 300 hrs.

    most likely your issue is with your application- that you are using high resolution near field studio monitors in a 4.1 HT setup. the ATCs are meant to be 2-channel only and in a near field optimized speaker and listening position.

    use the ATCs like they were desined in 2 channel mode with more appropriate amplification or switch to a decent brand known for HT with recessed mid/treble. example- KEF R300
    bhazen likes this.
  14. Yes this.

    You gotta give new speakers at least 100 hours. I bought new speakers about ten days ago. Now with about 45 hours in them I can already hear the difference. The lows and midrange have loosened making the tweeter much more compatible.

    World of difference so far and I’m sure this trend will continue. I’ve been really pushing them half that time too.

    Mine are floors but the same happens w bookshelves
  15. back2vinyl

    back2vinyl Forum Resident Thread Starter

    London, UK
    Yes, that's the thing - reducing the treble doesn't eliminate the unpleasant nasal "twang" in that clip - and yet it's much less noticeable when using my Audeze LCD-4 headphones. I haven't yet figured out why - it's a bit of a mystery to me. From the experiments I've done using Adobe Audition's de-esser, I can eliminate the twang by centring the de-esser at 5 kHz with a 1 kHz spread either side. Maybe the LCD-4 has a big dip at that point? I'm still trying to figure it out.

    I've talked about brightness a lot but I would like to say that I don't think the SCM11 is a bright speaker - I think it's a very accurate speaker but since a lot of recordings are bright or defective in other ways, and I don't like brightness, I might be better off with a less revealing speaker.

    I wish there were some reliable reviews of this speaker, with measurements, because I'd be interested to know what other people make of them. My impression is that they would be perfect as studio monitors because they're so accurate and revealing.

    Oh - pdxway - thanks for those distortion figures. I only listen at low volume so I don't think that would be a factor here but interesting anyway.
    pdxway likes this.
  16. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident

    Hmm, to avoid brightness when listening to harsh songs, I have tried position my speakers way off axis, like facing the front of speakers away from me. Have you tried that?
    Helom likes this.
  17. noladaoh

    noladaoh Forum Resident

    Just listened to the TH song you posted on my ATC SCM11V2 and did bot hear those artifacts. Sounded fine.
    Line Magnetic 211ia integrated
    Kimber PBJ interconnects
    Channel Islands Audio DAC
    Kimber 8TC speaker cables
  18. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident

    I listened to all 3 samples in my 5.1 setup. No harshness at all.

    Oppo 203 -> Pioneer SC-95 -> external amps -> speakers

    Taj Mahal sounded harsh when listening with my phone with really cheap headset. But it sounded great in my 5.1 setup.

    BTW, my Pioneer SC-95 does not sound good with eq on. It tries to jack up the highs for all speakers. So I listen with eq off. Have you tried turning off eq and other processing one by one to compare?

    You also mentioned that you listen in low level. I have also read that some amps have much higher distortion at 1 watt and below, but get better after 1 watt. I also wonder if that is the case with your amp.
  19. back2vinyl

    back2vinyl Forum Resident Thread Starter

    London, UK
    With those samples I posted earlier, the Taj Mahal wasn't bright but, to my ears, had a really bad nasal twang to the voice. The twin Talking Heads samples, however, were bright to my ears and this produced a nasty distorted edge to the vocals - to my ears, anyway.

    I'm very interested to hear that the samples sounded fine to both of you.

    Maybe it's my ears? Or my amp. Alternatively, I believe noladoah's amp is a valve amp and that might be taking the edge off things. And pdxway is using different speakers, so maybe they are more forgiving that SCM11s. There are several possibilities.

    I think I just have to get myself back to the dealer's with a few test tracks. Then I will find if they sound the same with his amp, and if so, whether he thinks they sound a bit off, too. He is a Spendor dealer as well as ATC so I may be able to arrange a side-by-side.

    Incidentally, I've listened to three albums in surround in the last day or so. The Tubular Bells DVD-A was perfect - sublime. So was the Like Minds DVD-A by Gary Burton, Pat Metheny and others. But the Mirage DVD-A by Fleetwood Mac, while not bright, had an unpleasant nasal twang on Stevie Nicks's vocals. Interesting that the two albums that sounded perfect had no vocals. Maybe I'm just hyper-sensitive to a particular sound in the vocal register.
    The FRiNgE likes this.
  20. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    if a good portion of your music sounds unacceptable (e.g. bright) it does not have to be like that. are all (4) of the speakers active when you listen to music? how are they located relative to room boundaries and seating position?
  21. MichaelXX2

    MichaelXX2 Forum Resident

    United States
    I suspect you need to treat your room. Some absorption on the side walls will help you tremendously. Get yourself a tube amp, some NOS tubes, and some really nice warm input tubes, and you'll be in heaven. That's what I've been chasing.
  22. back2vinyl

    back2vinyl Forum Resident Thread Starter

    London, UK
    My understanding, and I'm no expert, is that room treatment is mainly about reducing the peaks and nulls in the lower frequencies and makes little difference to the upper frequencies. But I think in any event that the problem may be my ears, based on the fact that other people aren't hearing the same unpleasantness in those samples.

    I have tinnitus as well as the usual hearing loss that comes with age. Apparently, this can often be accompanied by something called hyperacusis which is an over-sensitivity to certain frequencies, often those close to the frequency of the tinnitus or hearing loss.

    The theory I'm working on is that I have hyperacusis to some degree. The Audeze LCD-4 headphones don't trigger it because they happen to be quite heavily rolled off at the particular point in the frequency range where my over-sensitivity lies, and that's why I get along with them so well. I think my previous speakers, the Harbeths, were also quite rolled off. But the SCM11s are mercilessly accurate and don't roll off anything at all, so through no fault of their own, they trigger my hyperacusis whenever I play a track that happens to have a high level of content in my personal sensitive spot.

    So I think I either have to get my ears fixed - probably not possible - or find some speakers that mirror the frequency response of my Audeze LCD-4 headphones, which pretty much takes us back to the subject of this thread and all the helpful suggestions made in it. Other solutions are possible - EQing, room treatment, speaker placement, or simply not playing the albums that bother me. Anyway, I now have lots of avenues to explore and this thread has been a big help so thanks very much to everyone who's chipped in.
  23. Mike-48

    Mike-48 Forum Resident

    Portland, Oregon
    Sorry, that's a misconception. Room treatment is for both bass and treble ranges.

    In the treble: Any room with untreated slap echo and/or early first reflections will cause music to sound harsh. These are the easiest problems to treat, as treatment doesn't have to go down to the bass frequencies, and therefore it doesn't have to be thick. Typically, one can use 2" fabric-wrapped fiberglass panels (preferably with some reflection or diffusion in them).

    In the bass, treatment does reduce peaks and nulls, though IME the reduction usually is small. (What works better is moving the speakers around, or in very low frequencies, EQ.) However, what bass-related acoustic treatment does well is to reduce reverberation time, and by doing that, it makes music clearer (more articulate) in the bass and throughout the range.

    I hope that you have good luck solving your problem. I do believe that any speaker that's flat across the range is likely to sound harsh with most commercial recordings. However, not all audiophiles react to too much HF as harshness -- some hear only a lot of detail.

    I am not one of them -- like you, I'm sensitive to harshness. I use acoustic treatment in my room, and speakers with smooth and declining treble response. Even though I have normal age-related HF hearing loss (I'm 68), I am far more sensitive to HF noise, distortion, or peakiness than many of my younger friends.

    Have fun!
    Shiver and MichaelXX2 like this.
  24. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident

    I wish you luck in finding a solution soon. It took me years of experiments to finally arrive at a setup that enable me to enjoy certain rock albums at the sound level I like with my Paradigm Studio 10 speakers. I hope you will get a solution much sooner than I did.
  25. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    honestly, I have a feeling its either the amp or your source that make you cringe.
    i have the scm7v3 and heard the curved scm11 and scm19. they are revealing and not the smoothest sound, but they cannot make you cringe with the Phantom Blues track. make sure you test different amps and DAC.

    EDIT: you really should try another amp. that Anthem doesn't inspire confidence and ime, ATC needs good power to really sing.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2017
    Mad shadows and pdxway like this.

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